Huddle together, for good
In a media landscape dominated by events casting a less-than happy shadow over the lives of many, it’s comforting to know that the industry also impacts society for the better. This was the theme of November’s Huddle for Good, hosted across the Mindshare office in Tottenham Court Road, London. Over one day, media personalities, inspiring individuals and insightful brands came together to discuss how media allows them to influence the world for good.
A talk from TV presenter, actor and radio host, Reggie Yates, who is now widely acclaimed in the documentary-making field, highlighted BBC3’s role in providing Yates’ personal platform for good. Yates says that now, for him, the documentary form exists to “Unpack the why.” He likes to focus on human stories, Yates says, and bring a lightness of touch to his enquiries perhaps absent from his initial films. “I’m someone who’s willing to get it wrong on your behalf,” he says. Yates’ ‘brand’ of media investigation is inquisitive yet sensitive, gently naïve yet impactful; it provides a human insight often absent from news footage.
First-hand experience, then, is often a prerequisite for reaching the heart of the issue. The Guardian and Observer New Radical panel, in partnership with official foundation for innovation, Nesta, explored how personal experience can give way to radical thinking. The genuine force for good behind the enterprises allow fledgling brands to develop which, by virtue of their impact, create something much bigger.
Particularly striking was the frank and honest talk from self-proclaimed council estate girl, Charlie Craggs who, three years ago, began a travelling nail salon in order to tackle to stigma surrounding trans- people. As a transgender female, Craggs says, she’s encountered her fair share of abuse. But through her #NailTransphobia campaign, Craggs moves conversations about transgender people away from LGBT-friendly places into, sometimes, less welcoming environments.
The intimate setting of a nail salon, she says, helps break down barriers created by people’s misconceptions of transgender people. Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please, a social enterprise tackling homelessness through barista training and coffee sales, agrees. Bringing people face-to-face with an issue always seen but mostly ignored is the best way to make a difference. So these become not only brands with a purpose. The Guardian New Radicals are brands where social good is the very inspiration for business ventures.
National Geographic was the next brand to provide a few home truths, and tasty snacks, for its talk on food waste prevention – 1.3tn kilograms of food is wasted annually. With help from food waste prevention experts, Feedback, and the developers of London’s first surplus baked goods collection scheme, Day Old Eats, the sheer amount of edible food thrown away in London each day was brought to light. Food can be used in so many ways – Toast ale, for example, fermented and brewed from discarded crusts. It just takes a little innovation to find out how.
The day culminated on a slightly happier note, with an uplifting talk from a panel of individuals whose lives have been positively impacted via the power of Twitter. Perhaps most uplifting of all was the admission by Simon Key, owner of the independent Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, that word of mouth via Twitter helped his little shop get back on its feet. After £600 was stolen from behind Key's counter, the power of Twitter saw people from across the world rally together and crowdfund £6000 in just three days.
Of course, this is only a handful of the many talks and events happening throughout the day. After many inspirational talks and a plethora of treats and games around every corner, the power of media in changing perceptions became evident. In the current global climate and most recently in the rise of a ‘post-truth world’, the impact of social media, television, magazines, or even comedy as a force for good is often forgotten. Huddle for Good 2016 highlighted the positive side of brands and individuals who come together and make the world a slightly happier place to be.